The first time I heard this song I was 14 years old and Billy Idol had covered it on his Charmed Life album; needless to say it was the highlight of the record for me! Though there have been many versions, nothing lives up to the original; Jody Reynolds makes tragedy so cool.
Endless Sleep tells the story of a teenager whose girlfriend goes missing after a row. Its dark imagery opens to the bleakness of a black night full with rain and immediately the scene is set. Initially Reynolds had intended the song to be far more fateful, depicting the demise of the girl as she walks into the sea, her footsteps traced to the shore. The ocean claims her, but from beyond its ravages she cries out to her love offering him to Come join me, baby, in my endless sleep. I like the twist, but at the time no record companies wanted to record the song on the basis it was too depressing! The only record label that agreed to record it was LA’s, Demon Records and they did so on the one provision that Reynolds changed the ending to make it a happy one! Boo!..So the song ends with the boy stealing his girlfriend back from the angry sea as his heart cries out, “she’s mine to keep”/I saved my baby from an endless sleep”….
Such was the impact of this doom-laden song that not only did it reach number 5 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart upon its release 1958, but also sold over one million copies, inspiring a myriad of “teen tragedy” songs in its wake!
Endless Sleep was reissued in 1979, reaching number 66 on the UK singles chart and was later covered by an array of artists including Marty Wilde – whose version reached becoming his first chart hit. The song was later recorded (or in Bolan’s case, murdered) by Marc Bolan, Don Williams, Vince Taylor, Hank Williams Jr and Billy Idol, among many many others!….but Reynolds is the Daddy of doom and I love him!..